Is Republican Resistance to Gun Control Finally Breaking?

Two sitting congressmen's calls for a ban on assault rifles and other GOP lawmakers pushing for additional background checks may have bolstered suggestions that Republican opposition to gun reforms may be loosening in the wake of the latest school shooting.

As after virtually all the other mass shootings in the country, the debate on whether stricter gun laws are needed has once again been raised in order to prevent future massacres occurring.

The latest tragedy to prompt such discussions was the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and two adults dead.

In response, GOP reps. Chris Jacobs and Adam Kinzinger have both said they would support a ban on AR-15s in the country, as well as ending the sale of high capacity magazines and raising the legal requirement to purchase other firearms.

Other GOP Republicans such as Sens. Susan Collins and Pat Toomey have used the Robb Elementary School shooting to reiterate their longstanding calls for expanding background checks for gun buyers in order to help prevent mass shootings occurring.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has also called on Texas Sen. John Cornyn to lead negotiations with Democrats in order to find a compromise on gun laws.

No Meaningful Changes

For years, Congress, and in particular the GOP, have been criticized for failing to pass any meaningful gun law legislation in the wake of any mass shooting.

However, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy—one of those who recently held a meeting with Cornyn regarding gun reform—said he is somewhat hopeful that there could be bipartisan support to implement change in the current laws in the wake of the Uvalde attack.

"I am at the table in a more significant way right now with Republicans and Democrats than ever before. Certainly many more Republicans are willing to talk right now than were willing to talk after Sandy Hook," Murphy told ABC's This Week on Sunday.

"What we're talking about is not insignificant. Inside this room, we're talking about red flag laws. We're talking about strengthening and expanding the background check system, if not universal background checks. We're talking about safe storage. And yes, we're also talking about mental health resources and more security dollars for school," Murphy added.

However, there still remains the issue that just a handful of Republican voices is not enough for the party to move beyond a longstanding stance that the country does not need stricter gun control laws.

As noted by Axios' Erin Doherty, there has been a "familiar pattern'' in any attempt for Congress to pass gun reform laws in the wake of a mass shooting, dating back to the 2012 Sandy Hook school attack that left 20 children and six adults dead.

In each case, whether it be the Parkland school shooting in 2018, or the 2017 attack at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas that left 60 people dead, making it the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, there are simply not enough GOP Senators who are willing to push through any gun reform bills or laws expanding background checks.

A number of GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz and rep. Dan Crenshaw, both of Texas, and reps. Mo Brooks and Marjorie Taylor Greene have already spoken out against bringing in stricter gun laws in the wake of the Uvalde shooting.

It should also be noted that Kinzinger, who is actively calling for a ban on AR-15s, will no longer be a Republican lawmaker in January 2023 as he is retiring from office.

Donald Trump's View

Former President Donald Trump also frequently called for improved background checks in the wake of a number of mass shooting during his time as president, but ultimately no laws were ever passed.

Despite this, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressed some hope that bipartisan talks could see a push for new gun laws to be passed in Congress, noting there is a "different feeling " among his colleagues in Washington, D.C., following the Robb Elementary School shooting.

"Of course 10 years ago, it was Sandy Hook and Parkland and so many other instances," Durbin told CNN's State of the Nation on Sunday, pointing to how Congress has previously failed to act on emotional pleas for gun control.

"But it just is so compelling to see the photos of these young boys and girls and to picture your own children, your grandchildren, captives of this madman as he's killing them off one by one in that school and realize it is time for us to do something," Durbin added. "America is sick and tired of political excuses."

GOP gun control reform
A gun control advocate holds a sign during a protest at Discovery Green across from the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center, on May 27, 2022 in Houston, Texas. Republican opposition to gun reforms may be loosening. Eric Thayer/Getty Images